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  • 2015-2020 LPEA Strategic Plan

     

    Technology Innovation
      Background  
     

    La Plata Electric Association's Board of Directors held a strategic planning workshop in Pagosa Springs on October 1st and 2nd, 2014. The board held several more planning work sessions between January and April, 2015 to refine the objectives and initiatives that make up this plan.

     
         
      Plan Performance and Accountability  
     

    LPEA's Strategic Plan is a "working document," not simply a plan laying out future expectations and goals. As a result, emphasis will be placed on the periodic, (quarterly, initially), review of the plan with the board of directors by the LPEA management team as the contents of this plan evolve. The specific details of each strategic objective and initiative will be reviewed and modified, when necessary by the LPEA board of directors.

    At least annually, the LPEA board will conduct a workshop to review the validity of the plan.

     
         
      Industry Assessment  
     

    Although the electric utility industry is over 100 years old, it is under gone significant changes in the past 15 years. Deregulation in many states in the United States and in other countries is no longer an experiment, but an evolving market. Although Colorado is not deregulated in the electric utility segment, it experiences some of the growth pains and demands brought on by the evolving deregulated market, such as wheeling arrangements and integration of renewables, sometimes on utility scale projects.

    Bulk power grid deregulation, which in Colorado, is simply a subset geographically of the larger West Interconnect, will continue as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission continues to push for transmission open access deploying programs that are successful in other regional US markets. Colorado's aggressive renewable development posture will demand bulk power access to broader markets in the future. LPEA sees its role as a facilitator to insure that market access is available.

    LPEA has seen substantial increase in deployment by members of PV as a renewable resource for electric production. As of the first of 2015, LPEA has seen deployment at over 700 homes and businesses within its territory. In addition, 4 Community Solar Gardens came on line, and most are fully subscribed. Solar and wind projects have moved from legislative mandates to economic viability.

    Storage technology and its evolution is moving out of the lab and into production.

    Environmental regulations are beginning to impact traditional fossil fuel based generation plants. Solid fuel plants are incurring additional capital expenses to control various emissions which are driving up the costs of traditional power plant fuels. Natural gas as a fuel source has found a niche market in complimenting renewable electric generation. In the short run, LPEA assesses the electric market as seeing increased pressure on pricing.

    Light Emitting Diode lighting technology is now commercially available and is seeing significant growth in consumer demand. LED lighting is substantially more energy efficient and enjoys more effective lighting in all applications because of electronics technology.

    Energy efficiency is still a fundamental tool of electric utilities to help consumers manage their energy costs. While energy efficiency will drive consumers to make a variety of changes to manage their energy use, an economic divide where the demographics of lower income members who do not have the same energy efficiency opportunities as other members will demand attention. Some of LPEA's specific plans and programs in the short term will attempt to address and remediate that divide.

    Reliability is being impacted by weather in new ways. And while management's assessment of LPEA's operation and maintenance resources is positive, the future of reliability will demand more in technology, and not just advanced metering infrastructure, which LPEA will complete in 2015. Distribution automation technology will be critical if LPEA is to assess and respond to system disturbances more efficiently and effectively.

    A recent DNV GL webinar begins with "the days of monopolized power are coming to an end…get smarter or get out of the way". Utilities that survive will adapt to the integration demands place on the grid by renewables and other technologies. Furthermore, utilities will have redefined their local grids to suit the adaptations of their consumer's energy paradigm. The centrally planned electric grid of the past will gradually erode beginning in smaller geographic markets.

     
         
     
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